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Second-period outburst leads Kings past Panthers

by Curtis Zupke / NHL.com

LOS ANGELES -- Perhaps the Los Angeles Kings decided to honor former teammate Willie Mitchell by highlighting unsung defensemen Matt Greene and Robyn Regehr?

Greene and Regehr scored their first goals of the season and the Kings beat the Florida Panthers 5-2 Tuesday at Staples Center. Jeff Carter and Marian Gaborik also scored during a four-goal second period for the Kings, who improved to a League-best 9-2-1 at home.

Regehr made it 4-0 with a shot that beat Panthers goal Roberto Luongo far side at 19:52 of the second. It was his first goal since Feb.26. Greene redirected a pass from Brayden McNabb at 4:32 of the second to end a 47-game goal-scoring drought dating to his most-recent goal on Oct.19, 2013.

"At first I didn't think it was [Greene] because I didn't know he had that in his repertoire," Kings center Anze Kopitar said. "It was a great play from Brayden to see him, and a great tip to get us on the board. [Regehr was] just following up the play and being on the spot."

Regehr looked almost surprised when the puck went in after Carter created a turnover and found him open in the high slot.

"I knew there wasn't a whole lot of time left in the period so I just decided to shoot it," Regehr said.

It was Mitchell's first appearance in Los Angeles since he signed with the Panthers in July after four years with the Kings, winning the Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2014. Mitchell, who received his 2014 Cup ring from Kings coach Darryl Sutter, team president Luc Robitaille and alternate governor Dan Beckerman before the game, waved to the crowd when was recognized during the first timeout.

"I think just actually [hit me] skating out for warm-ups the first time and you see the signs around, it's like, 'This is real. I'm not playing here anymore,'" Mitchell said. "It's different because the role I'm in here, I'm trying to put all my heart into this organization because that's what I'm here to do is win and bring out the best in some young guys and bring out the best in me, and then when you come back to an organization that gave so much and you had so many good times there.

"It kind of brings you back to that moment. Your heart goes back over there and bouncing back and forth a little bit and just being brutally honest with it."

Mitchell saw more of his former teammates than he would have liked because Florida gave the Kings six power plays.

Los Angeles converted three of them and is 5-for-9 on the power play the past two games. Carter one-timed a pass from Dwight King that hit Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson on the leg before it went in the net at 9:46 of the second during Vincent Trocheck's double-minor high sticking penalty.

Gaborik swiped in the puck from the left side at 14:18 of the second with Derek MacKenzie serving a tripping penalty.

"We've done a really good job lately, but tonight it obviously came back to haunt us," Florida coach Gerard Gallant said of the penalties. "They got three power-play goals and that makes it tough. They're a good team. We played 40 minutes as good as you can play against them, but in that second period we got totally dominated."

Florida, which scored 17 goals in its previous four games, rallied with third-period goals by Jimmy Hayes and Jussi Jokinen and outshot the Kings 13-2 in the third.

Hayes' power-play goal at 2:01 ended an eight-period shutout streak by Los Angeles against Florida, which has been outscored 12-2 in the past three games between these teams.

Luongo was pulled for Al Montoya to start the third. Luongo is 0-6-2 in his past eight against the Kings, including the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Florida recalled center Rocco Grimaldi, a locally-born player who played an NHL game in the area for the first time and centered the top line.

"It's special, obviously," Grimaldi said. "This is one of the ones in the calendar that I really wanted to play and I obviously didn't expect it coming into this morning."

The Panthers scratched Aleksander Barkov because of an apparent illness.

Sutter passed Bob Berry for sixth on the Kings' all-time wins list at 107.

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